After the horrific murders in Atlanta and Cherokee County, including six people of Asian descent, we want to express our sorrow and dismay that prejudice against Asian Americans still persists. We’d like to alert the citizens of Santa Barbara about some of the wonderful experiences we’ve shared with our friends from Toba, Japan, and how they’ve impacted our lives.
We lived as guest ambassadors in Toba for one year in 1989-90 as part of the 50-year Sister City relationship between Toba and Santa Barbara. Since then, we have been involved with the S.B. Toba Sister City Organization, and our one-year adventure has evolved into 30 years with many rewarding friendships, activities and exchange hostings between Santa Barbara and Japan.
Here are some other highlights that have affected many Santa Barbara and Toba citizens over the years:
Over 100 boys and girls from Santa Barbara and 100 boys and girls from Toba, aged 13-15, during the last 27 years, have been exchange students during the summer. Many of these exchanges turned into life-long friendships.
During the Painted Cave fire in 1990, a delegation from Toba was visiting Santa Barbara. Within days the group raised $15,000 from Toba citizens to help the rebuilding of Alpha Resource Center and replanting of trees in Tucker’s Grove.
Ten years ago, after the devastating Fukushima nuclear disaster, Santa Barbara citizens rallied to a call to send disaster relief funds to Toba which suffered tsunami damage to their harbor and oyster businesses.
We are working on educating ourselves about micro-aggressions such as those mentioned by Asian-American Santa Barbara people in the recent articles by Tyler Hayden and Mona Miyasato. We suggest that participating in Sister City activities is a good way to make cross cultural connections.